I realize this story is a bit off the beaten path but bear with me. Some legislators in California recently proposed a new bill that would specifically target the pornography industry in their state. But rather than trying to just stamp out porn, they are claiming that they want to protect women and cut down on human trafficking. (Both noble goals, to be sure.) But in order to do that, they want all of the adult film actors to be fingerprinted, go through a background check and complete regular training on a variety of safety-related subjects. The response from the Adult Performers Actors Guild was swift and decidedly negative. (NBC News)

A proposal in California to require adult pornography and webcam performers to be fingerprinted and obtain a license to work set off a firestorm this week, highlighting tensions among lawmakers, labor unions and advocacy groups for the industry.

Adult film actors immediately spoke out against the far-reaching bill after it was quietly unveiled Tuesday, prompting the legislation’s Democratic sponsors to promise by Thursday afternoon that they will remove the licensing requirements.

Under the proposal, AB 2389, adult performers would have to pay for and complete training every two years on safety, human trafficking and workplace rights, and provide fingerprints to go through a background check to get a license.

The proposal would also establish a gubernatorial advisory committee that includes members of the adult film industry. Somehow I’m having trouble picturing Gavin Newsom sitting down at a big conference table with a bunch of porn stars and producers.

While preventing human trafficking and sexual assault are important topics to address, there are clearly several things wrong with this proposal. First of all, there’s the subject of unequal treatment under the law. SAG-AFTRA claims roughly 160,000 members. Not all of them are in California, obviously, but a lot of them are. The porn version of the group, APAG (Adult Performers Actors Guild) doesn’t appear to list their membership numbers, but it’s a safe assumption that it’s significantly smaller.

With that in mind, all of these people work in the film industry. How does California propose to place a significant set of new regulations on only the adult film workers and not the rest of the Hollywood glitterati? Even if it somehow makes it into law, I can’t see how such a regulation could possibly survive a court challenge.

Legal questions aside, let’s consider the tone-deaf approach being taken here. The bill claims to be acting in the interest of protecting women from potential sexual abuse and reducing human trafficking. And you’re not going to make the rules apply to the rest of Hollywood? Hello? Are you saying you’ve never heard of the #MeToo movement, Harvey Weinstein and all the rest? The idea that young actresses (in particular) working outside of the porn industry don’t require such protection would be laughable were it not so insulting. If anything, one can say that when porn stars show up for work they at least go in knowing that somebody is intending to have sex with them. Not so for aspiring actresses trying to break into the “regular” film business who wind up on some predator’s casting couch.

This entire proposal is beyond problematic and the bill should be pulled. You can check out the union’s responses on their Twitter account. (I probably shouldn’t need to warn you that a lot of the stuff in that stream may be unsuitable for more sensitive readers and it’s definitely NSFW and not for those under 18.)